Casey Stoner has returned to MotoGP action at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan today, the double world champion completing his first stint on a factory Honda since he retired from racing nine months ago.
Stoner’s two-day appearance, which was exclusively revealed by MCN last month, is the first of four test sessions the Australian has planned in the coming weeks to fit around his new career as a driver in the Australian V8 Supercar feeder series.
However heavy rain badly disrupted today’s test and according to sources he was only able to complete six laps.
In a statement from Repsol Honda, Stoner said: “It was good to get back on the bike, if only for a few laps! We only managed to get one run in before the rain arrived which was a little disappointing. It was really nice to get that first run, it's been 9 months since I've been on a bike and it's going to take me some time to get used to everything again! The bike and the track felt good and I hope that we can get some better testing in tomorrow with some dry track time and run some more laps"
His surprise return to two-wheeled action is a move that has sparked intense speculation that he will make a dramatic return to MotoGP with wild card appearances in Phillip Island and Motegi later this season.
HRC will use Stoner’s blinding speed and feedback to help with development of the 2014 RC213V that current world championship leader Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa will race next year.
The 27-year-old, who walked away from MotoGP last November after becoming disillusioned with the direction of the sport, will also give his input into the new production RC213V racer that Honda will sell to non-factory teams from next season onwards.